Avoiding processed foods, sugar, and artificial sweeteners are at the top of my healthy eating list.
Artificial sweeteners include Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharin, Xylitol, Sorbitol, and Acesulfame. They are found in many foods and beverages labeled as “sugar-free” or “diet”.
Because of their super sweetness, they may change how our brain tastes food. For example, you may no longer enjoy fruit as much. Or, you may think it’s OK to eat more desserts because you’re drinking diet sodas.
Here are a few quick ideas to assist you in reducing sweet cravings from your diet:
- Start with eliminating sweeteners and sugars, including fruit, for a minimum of three days. Your palate will reset and you may discover you don’t like as much sweetness.
- After your three day elimination, stay away from artificial sweeteners. I suggest before you start your elimination, clean your pantry and give them away to avoid having them in reach at home.
- When you eat fruit, start by avoiding tropical fruits like bananas, mangos, and dates and eat fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, and apples. When you do reintroduce sweeter fruits, limit your portion to a half. Making a simple fruit salad with a variety of several fruits is an easy way to cut back on the really sweet ones.
- Limit your dessert portions. If you’re focused on losing weight or concerned with pre-Diabetes or Diabetes, I like the idea of taking only 3-4 bites and not eating a whole serving (does the last bite really ever taste as good as the first one?!). If you think you just can’t resist, put some salt on it! Or put your fork or spoon in your glass of water as a visual cue that you’re done.
- Instead of a high carb dessert like cake, opt for a small piece of high quality dark chocolate and let it melt slowly in your mouth. I suggest over 60% cacao and without soy lecithin in the ingredients.
I’ve had people ask me about stevia, which is derived from a plant. I’m not a big fan of stevia either, because it’s 200-350 times sweeter than sugar, and again, may change your palate, plus, manufacturers of many stevia-based products add other products (read the labels).
Stick with Mother Nature’s ingredients in their simplest forms when possible.
I prefer using small quantities of coconut palm sugar, local honey (which has some trace nutrients and may help with allergies), dates (also has trace nutrients and some fiber), or organic cane sugar.
Adding cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice blend, or vanilla bean powder are other delicious ways to add some natural sweet flavor. In some research studies, cinnamon has also been shown to lower insulin resistance.
Life is too short to avoid sweets all the time, but it’s wise to be mindful in what types you choose, and how much and how often you enjoy them.
Photo credit: Steppingstone Wellness
Kim offers integrative nutrition health coaching through secure video calls or face-to-face in Berkeley, CA and nearby cities.
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